What’s the Best Way to Begin the Year?

A fresh start. That’s what I need. Or the undo button, so I can modify last year. This is not an uncommon wish for many of us at the closing of a year or the opening of a new one. Sometimes, we had a great year. Sometimes, we had a not-so-bad year. Oftentimes, we had a hard year ridden with hurts and pains, failures and problems; we thought we would never get through any of them.

But we did, and here we are at the launching pad of a new year—a new beginning bringing with it hope and endless possibilities.

So when we look back on what we’ve gone through, how can we begin the right way? I believe the answer to that question is simple: Begin by being grateful to God.

Begin by being grateful to Him for the things that brought us happiness and smiles in the past year and for the love we experienced in Him. Begin by going back to how faithful God has been and how good He has been to us even in those times we didn’t clearly see His hand. When we look back and see how the pieces in our lives fell into a beautiful tapestry of grace, realize that God did all that and be thankful.

Begin by being grateful for the things that brought us tears. I know that sounds preposterous. To suggest to be thankful for pain seems like a bad move. But pain is a gift. It’s a gift nobody wants, yet we all need to be thankful for it. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Pain enables us to know that something is wrong or that what we experienced was real. It unmasks us and helps us see the truth. It adds dimension to our lives and meaning to our pursuits. A person who has never gone through suffering will never fully appreciate God’s selfless act and sacrifice on the cross and the depth of His love. Our salvation had cost Him dearly, and you can bet it was very painful. Yet because He endured that pain, we all have been given a new birth. The pain of love gave us what we so desperately need—Jesus.

And, begin by being grateful for what we have and what is ahead of us not letting our messes from the past year stop us from moving forward.

Most of us want to do things differently this year. I know I do.

But all the things that we wished we did, or did better, or more of from the last year could preoccupy our minds and hearts, sometimes causing us to forget what is truly important—a life lived out in the reality of being God’s child. This means not being a slave to our defeats but being free in God to keep moving forward even when moving forward seems impossible. As Ann Voskamp said, “Be more grateful for what is—than you feel guilty over what isn’t. The moving forward always happens in this relief that all our guilt is covered by His grace.”

What a precious gift we have in Jesus! His incomprehensible grace continues to clothe us with His righteousness and completely engulf us with His love.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)!

Photo credit:bubbo.etsy.com / Foter / CC BY-NC

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